Photo Credit: j. rosenstrach
When I was in my twenties, I was obsessed with Gwyneth Paltrow. I was 25 and feeling lost career-wise when she had her first real star turn in Emma. I saw the movie opening weekend and read any profile of her that I could get my hands on. Every time I finished a story, I felt like I was in 6th grade all over again — eyeing the popular girl from afar consumed by an envy I couldn’t completely understand. If only I could find a career as creative and as fulfilling as Gwynnie’s! I still had that before-30 belief that if I just worked a little harder then maybe I’d still have a shot at being a movie star and going to the Oscars in a pink Ralph Lauren frock. (Any professional achievement that happened after 30 in my mind didn’t count. At that point it seemed expected, un-special.) The fact that I could barely give a wedding toast without panicking for weeks leading up to the big day, or that I hadn’t acted since I played Adelaide in my 6th-grade production of Guys & Dolls were small details to be worked out later.
When I turned 30, two things happened. I was hired at a start-up called Real Simple, where I was somehow given permission to edit essays by writers like Ellen Gilchrist and Katharine Weber in the morning and, in the afternoon, scribble my red pen all over manuscripts about garlic and corkscrews and cookbooks. There was no way that the cast and crew of Shakespeare in Love was having as much fun as I was. But by that point it almost didn’t matter — because the second thing that happened to me that year was that I had my first baby. The search for meaning (professional and otherwise) was over.
Jenny Rosenstrach is a writer, editor and mom of two young girls. She writes the blog Dinner: A Love Story
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